When I joined Lead 4 Life in May 2015 as a Public Relations and Media intern, I never imagined myself facilitating leadership development camps and youth processes with the rest of the team. Don’t get me wrong, I have always been an outgoing, self-starter with a healthy dose of self-esteem so that wasn’t a problem. What surprised me was my ability to teach (and enjoy teaching) and inspire young people to unleash the leader within.
The ethos at Lead for Life is that Leadership is inherent in each and every one of us: once we are presented with opportunities to lead, we flourish. Kevin Wallace, Lead 4 Life’s National General Manager has a knack for presenting people with the best opportunities to lead. He lives by the mantra, ‘Leadership is not management.’ The first time he explained this concept to me, I had a hard time getting my head around it. Surely they’re the same thing, I thought to myself. And, like many other people, I was so wrong. The concepts of leadership and management are often used interchangeably which means that we rarely see the fundamental differences between the two and the important roles they each play.
Management is, in fact, a set of tried and tested processes such as planning, budgeting, measuring performance, and problem-solving, amongst many others—functions which help a team or an organisation do what it has set out to do on a day to day basis. Management allows us to predict and produce results consistently, according to plan, on budget, and on time. In an organisation of any size, management is a complex function, extremely crucial—but it’s not leadership.
Management is concerned with attributes, hence the obsession with Type A and similar personalities. Leadership, on the other hand, is concerned with behaviours. With over 12 years of experience in Leadership development, Kevin is constantly telling us to look out for the “background” characters in the teams we facilitate and, sure enough, they end up emerging as the leaders.
Leadership is about purpose, vision, mission, and taking the necessary steps to influence others to buy into your vision, being able to buy into the vision of others, empowering self and others to carry a vision with the ultimate aim of producing useful change. One could argue that leadership is futuristic—it embraces opportunity, successfully exploiting it in order to produce even more opportunity.
“In describing the difference between Leadership and Management,” Kevin tells me, “the best metaphor that I have heard is ,‘When faced with a challenge, Leaders decide what wall the ladder must go against and come up with a strategy and managers will then be tasked with getting the team over the wall.” He adds that leaders should always lead by example.
Robin Sharma, author of ‘The Monk who Sold His Ferrari’ states that “With all of the cataclysmic change in our society right now, Leadership Development has become the single most important skill to ensure success,” another philosophy Kevin subscribes to. While management can be carried out by a few identified individuals, a 21st century team or organisation needs leadership at every level from each individual. The belief that a few ‘extraordinary’ people can provide all the leadership needed today is a recipe for disaster.